January 2015-Chris Drew Grand Canyon Reflection

Chris Drew started his passion for rivers at an early age on the rivers of North Carolina. He resettled out west and now works as a river guide in Colorado. He served as one of Lonnie’s guides on the No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition.

I am finally starting to settle back into the “real world” from the Grand Canyon trip, and I have had some time to reflect and reminisce. The trip was filled with so many amazing moments; moments of excitement above the rapids, moments of concern when Lonnie ran solo, and then moments of joy in the eddy at the bottom. As we snaked along the river, around every corner there would be a B.A.M! (Beauty Appreciation Moment) thanks to the beautiful layers of sandstone, granite, and schist. Some of my favorite moments would involve watching Lonnie and Erik paddle. I was watching two people live bright and happy lives in a world that for them is engulfed in darkness. There were also plenty of moments of learning and discovery, some of those moments were about others, some were about myself. Something I learned is that as an individual one can accomplish good things, but working as a team we can accomplish amazing things. The moment that surprised me the most on this trip was when I realized how much fun it was to guide Lonnie. Leading up to the launch, I was concerned that it would be too stressful and take away from the experience. This couldn’t be further from the truth. My favorite moment was the opportunity to guide Lonnie and Erik simultaneously. When you have two blind kayakers following you, even a simple rapid requires a torrent of communication.

Looking introspectively, I find I have moments of self-doubt and hesitation that are self-created barriers. But, when I’m paddling with Lonnie, all of those moments are washed away. That is what’s so amazing about kayaking; it forces you to live in the moment, that one singular moment, and forget everything else. Your only concern is finding the line, communicating that line, and shooting the rapid together. Moving forward, I am excited to work with more blind kayakers, and share this truly fun and exciting experience with others.

–Chris Drew